The Belladonna Invitation by Rose Biggin
Review on Goodreads
Thank you to the publisher for the ARC in exchange for this honest review
On the surface, the Belladonna is a mysterious, charismatic, alluring creature that dazzles everyone around her. Adorned with the poisonous plant that shares her name, the Belladonna operates in Parisian society as a sort of non-supernatural vampire. She survives by feeding off the wealthy patrons who long to possess her and attend her deadly, secret salons.
We open the curtains on her life through the eyes of Flora (sometimes just “F.”), a social climber with secrets of her own who manipulates her way into becoming the Belladonna’s personal companion. Through Flora’s eyes we learn that despite the mystery and her unnaturally dark eyes, the Belladonna is a woman who must walk a careful tightrope to maintain her place in society. Flora slides easily into the role of companion, confidante, and organizer until a poet named Lucian arrives and threatens to upend their house of cards.
The tone of the book fits its subject matter and stars perfectly. The Belladonna operates by tantalizing her admirers, remaining aloof, and only revealing the minimum needed to keep them hooked. The novel does this as well. The author masters her own balancing act of maintaining mystery and distance, but still drawing the reader in until the tense conclusion.
I admire how the author provided enough information that I wasn’t left frustrated, but avoided explaining everything. I do wish there had been more secrets and shocking twists, but that might be my personal taste. The Belladonna Invitation is more of a slow-burn, seductive thriller, perfect for fans of gothic horror.